They’re making a list… Checking it twice… And do we teachers think it’s naughty or nice? There are certainly some interesting choices on the list of prescribed material for Leaving Certificate English 2018, which you can view here.

The classics like Emma, The Great Gatsby and Wuthering Heights, along with Shakespeare’s King Lear, are still there of course, and as always, they’re interspersed with a range of more modern texts. Having taught Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie until it was removed from the list, and having always found it popular with students, I’m delighted to see Americanah there, and I’ll give that title serious consideration if I have a 5th Year class in September. The graphic novel Persepolis, also made into an acclaimed film, is a new departure, and one I don’t think I’d be brave enough to take on without getting some help first! Touching the Void by Joe Simpson is currently on my reading list, highly recommended to me by a friend from the sporting world, and that might be an option too, given that I’ve rarely (if ever!) taught a non-fiction text for the Comparative (shame!). However, this story about the reaction of UK school children to the text should perhaps make me think twice… (!!!)

The film selection is the real talking point for 2018. Along with I’m not Scared, Children of Men, Juno, The Artist and the Hitchcock classic Rear Window (which I’d like to teach some time just for sheer self-indulgence!), we have Tom Hooper’s musical Les Misérables and most interestingly, Stop at Nothing: the Lance Armstrong Story, directed by Alex Holmes.

Musical films are not unheard of on the course, with Strictly Ballroom one of the early staples, but the Lance Armstrong documentary will certainly push the boundaries! The comparative modes for 2018 do not include Theme, opening up the choice of texts for teachers as that obvious connector is not be required, and the wider the variety the better when it comes to Literary Genre, Cultural Context and General Vision and Viewpoint.

Choosing just three texts from this list won’t be easy! What do you think?